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NBA Finals: Thunder battles history in Game 4

Thunder will battle history in Game 4. A loss Tuesday night, and the odds are stacked against Oklahoma City.
by Darnell Mayberry and Mike Sherman Published: June 18, 2012


Based on what has transpired to date since the NBA Finals instituted the 2-3-2 format in 1985, Game 4 on Tuesday at 8 p.m. in American Airlines Arena is a must-win for the Thunder.

OKC trails 2-1 against the Miami Heat in the best-of-7 series.

There have been 13 Finals series tied at 1 under the 2-3-2 format. On Sunday, Miami became only the fourth home team to win Game 3 in such situations.

The other three were the 1985 Los Angeles Lakers (vs. Boston), the 1998 Chicago Bulls (vs. Utah) and the 2004 Detroit Pistons (vs. the Lakers).

Of the previous 12 winners of Game 3, 11 have gone on to win the NBA title.

The only time the Game 3 winner didn't claim the title was last year when the Heat took a 2-1 series advantage over the Dallas Mavericks before losing 4-2.

In addition, the winner of Game 3 in the entire history of the Finals has won the championship 85.3 percent of the time.


Through three games, the 2012 NBA Finals is the most-watched Finals ever on ABC, averaging 16.1 million viewers, according to Fast Nationals from Nielsen.

Sunday night's Game 3 broadcast delivered 15.4 million viewers.

Additionally, the series to date is up 7 percent in household rating (9.7 vs. 9.1) and 5 percent in viewership compared to last year's three-game averages (Miami Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks). The 9.7 three-game average is the highest since 2004.

Game 3 recorded an 8.8 household rating, lowest of the series. The game got a 41.9 rating in Oklahoma City, peaking at 54.7 at 9:30 p.m. It got a 29.6 rating in Miami and 24.3 in Tulsa.


The Thunder was the NBA's top free-throw shooting team the last two seasons with percentages of .823 and .806, but OKC is shooting just .701 so far in the Finals.

“We just need to be able to relax and shoot them with confidence,” veteran forward Nick Collison said. “It's a hard thing to really point to and do differently other than just our mindset. It's each guy. I think we'll shoot better. We haven't, but I think we'll calm down and shoot better. That's what we're hoping for.”

The misses certainly aren't due to a lack of practice.

“We always shoot them,” Collison said. “You just have to make them in the game. We probably shoot 50 to 100 on most days, even on shootaround days. The way guys do workouts, they get free throws during shootaround, they do shooting usually after shootaround (in) pregame. It's got to be just confidence, I think, is the big key with that.”

How do you fix it?

“Maybe don't get caught up in trying to fix it,” Collison said. “Just focus on our effort and our concentration and really try to do those things like our principles that we always talk about like screening to set up plays, the spacing to be a little bit better, but really just try to get yourself ready to play in Game 4 and we'll play better, I guess. If we can continue to defend like we did for most of that game and clean up things, I think we'll play better.”

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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by Mike Sherman
Sports Editor
Mike Sherman is sports editor of The Oklahoman, where he has a combined 18 years of service during two stints as a writer and an editor. He covered high school sports for The Oklahoman from 1984-93. He also worked as a news writer for the...
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